Monday, November 28, 2011

Stumped

Nope, it wasn't the stuffing that got me.  I counted the cranberry bread just fine.  Pecan pie?  No problem.  I'd done my homework and except for the difficulty of adding more and larger numbers of carbohydrate grams than usual, we cruised through Thanksgiving dinner and a few rounds of leftovers fairly smoothly.

Then Sunday morning came the offer of toaster waffles at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  I turned to head for the basement freezer to check the value-sized box for a number. 

"Oh...we took them all out of the box.  It's gone."

Maybe it would be in the meter's food bank.  Yes...one 7 inch waffle was right there.  Digging a tape measure out of the kitchen junk drawer, we learned these were 4 1/2 inch waffles.  Hmm.  Too much math for 7 a.m.

Out to the car in his p.j.'s went my husband for the Calorie King book we keep tucked in the door pocket.  Problem solved.

And now I'll probably never forget that 2 of Grandma and Grandpa's freezer waffles are 27 carbs.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

I am decidedly not thankful for diabetes.  It's an awful disease which negatively impacts my child and my family in many ways.  However, on this day, we're called to be thankful for things.  So here, in no particular order, is my list of diabetes-related things for which I am thankful.

1. People with diabetes.  We've met so many incredible people in the past 9 years, who we would not otherwise have had reason to know or to grow close to.  We would have missed out on some great friendships.

2. Insulin.  Insulin is not a cure.  It can, in fact, be a fairly dangerous treatment.  However, without it we would not currently have a beautiful, busy, happy child.

3. Technology.  Looking back even 15 years, the fact that my child has a glucometer which communicates with her insulin pump, contains a carbohydrate list, and can graph her blood sugar log is amazing.

4. Research Towards A Cure.  No, there wasn't a cure in 5 years as origionally promised.  But the progress over the past 10, particularly on the technology end, has been quite encouraging.

5. Medical Care.  I don't know if it's been our geographical locations or just great luck, but we've worked with the kindest and most competent endocrinologists and certified diabetes educators around.

6. The Internet.  Access to Children With Diabetes, JDRF, and a wide variety of blogs certainly lessens the feeling of isolation, and provides care ideas and perspectives to consider with our medical team.

7. Accessories.  Any parent of a girl will tell you the value of accessories, and with diabetes it's no different.  The choices of pump packs, infusion set colors, and medic-alert bracelets adds a bit of color to a dreary diabetes day.

8. Juice Boxes.  Clifford juice, Ernie and Bert Juice, Juicy Juice...it doesn't matter.  A measured low blood sugar treatment, complete with straw, makes things much easier.

9. My Child.  Nature or nurture?  Probably some of each, but this kid puts up with diabetes' shenanigans with such maturity and grace, it puts most of us to shame in how we deal with obstacles in our lives.  I know...the teenage years are ahead of me. But for right now, I find her amazing, and there are countless reasons why I am thankful for her.

10. Carbohydrate Counting.  Last, but not least on this particular day, I'm grateful to be able to count carbohydrates and deliver insulin accordingly.  We may not always do it perfectly, but it's hard to imagine limiting my child to one starch choice at Thanksgiving dinner.  Would it be the potatoes? Stuffing?  Cranberry bread?  Winter Squash?  Crescent rolls? 

Well, maybe on a day such as today I'm also thankful for the correction bolus.  It's like having an eraser when taking the math test which is our Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tired

There's tired, and then there's diabetes tired.  The tired in our family comes in parent and child forms.

We experienced both at our house today.  Up at 2, I discovered a low blood sugar.  I gave my daughter a juice box, and was up again in a while to check.  I awoke once again around 5 a.m., and while I ordinarily might have rolled over and dozed off again, I wondered instead.  What if she was low again?  Or really high? If I checked her, would I wake her up for the day?  What if I didn't check and she was dangerously low?  There was no choice to but to get up.  She was fine, but by then I was wide awake.

I noticed my daughter was particularly tired before dinner tonight.  "What wore you out?" I asked. 

"I don't know...just a long day, I guess." 

Then I remembered the overnight blood sugar of 60, with an eventual climb to 280.  An aggressive correction plummeted her back to juice box numbers at school before eventually evening out.  That'll take a lot out of a person, I hear.

We can only hope for a turkey-induced nap in the near future.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guess The Carbs

Yesterday, we enjoyed the last part of my daughter's birthday celebration, a trip to American Girl Place.

Our afternoon of shopping and exploring the latest dolls and accessories concluded with a late lunch at the store's cafe.  My daughter and her best friend brought their dolls, who sat happily at the table in special booster seats and enjoyed their very own cups of tea.

The four course meal concluded with this dessert trio:


Care to hazard a guess as to the grams of carbohydrate on this plate?

There's no way to tell where I went wrong, but somewhere between the first course of cinnamon buns, the soft pretzels with honey mustard, the chicken tenders with curly fries and a fruit skewer, and the above delicious collection of treats, I did.  By 5 p.m., she'd hit 380. A night of checking and bolusing ensued.  The sheer variety of carb-containing items served, as well as the unheard of consumption of three different dessert items were big contributors to my inability to adequately account for what she ate.

This was a once in a blue moon experience, which my daughter fully enjoyed. In my humble opinion, this celebration was worth the post-meal blood-sugar battle. By midnight, she'd reached the low 200's, and this morning, she was down to 89.  A little hard work and determination solved the problem fairly quickly.

Meanwhile, she and her  best friend will remember their  lunch with Kit Kittredge and Jess forever.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Eating Season

Halloween marks the beginning of the season I refer to as "eating season."  Coming on the tail end of birthday season, it begins with the candy and any Halloween party treats.  It continues into my daughter's early November birthday, for which there are usually a couple of different food-heavy celebrations.  We then move to Thanksgiving which includes for us a big dinner at our church, a feast at school and then the actual day.  And the subsequent days of leftovers.  Which rolls us (literally) right into Christmas cookies, holiday parties, and Christmas dinner.  We round out each year by eating our way through New Years Eve and day with dear friends.

I really like good food.  I like to cook it, read about it, and eat it.   I've raised a child who, despite her food-phobic compatriot diabetes, enjoys her food as well.  So this is a season of anticipation, but also of challenges.

She's excited to try the candy she salvaged out of her trick-or-treat bag.  She's already wondering what kinds of pies will be at Grandma and Grandpa's on Thanksgiving.  We're working out a date for her best friend to come over to decorate gingerbread cookies with us.  We're on the lookout for a new idea for New Years Eve dessert.

But it's time to dust off that carb book and reaquaint myself with the food index in her glucometer.  At the moment, I'd be hard pressed to guess how many carbs in a cup of flour to math out a recipe, or in a slice of apple pie.  This time of year I find my estimations are rustier than they will be after a month of eyeballing plates of turkey/potatoes/stuffing/cranberry sauce and coming up with a reasonable number. 

It's challenging, especially at the beginning of this season, to put in the work required to keep diabetes highs and lows at bay while enjoying the fabulous foods of the season.  It s a different way of living with diabetes than we usually abide by.  The measuring cups, package reading, and focus on healthy choices fall by the wayside a bit this time of year.  There's more educated guessing and much more testing to make sure we've guessed correctly.

But denying my child that slice of great grandma's home-made pie, or a second serving of stuffing is out of the question.  So it's time to study up, stick the carb book in my purse, and make sure we have a good supply of test strips. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Waiter

We had lunch at our local diner a couple of weeks ago.  My daughter started with a diet soda.  Then she ordered french toast and requested sugar-free syrup.  She tested her blood sugar at the table before she ate.

Near the end of the meal, our waiter approached.  Nodding towards my daughter, he asked, "She has diabetes?" 

"Yes, she does," I replied.  My initial surprise at this seemingly random question quickly dissipated as I thought through what she'd ordered.

"I also have diabetes, " he continued in his thickly accented English.  He proceeded to tell us about being diagnosed 30 years ago, give or take. He was about my daughter's age living in his home country, a then poor and undeveloped place.  He described his mother's tears, and the struggles of his family to obtain for him insulin, glucose monitoring, and medical care. 

"But here I am, thanks God," he continued.  "It's o.k.  You can do it.  You just keep going and take care of it.  You will be fine. See?  I am fine."

Indeed.  We have our moments when it all seems impossible.  Those moments are nothing compared to what this gentleman, and thousands like him have struggled through to manage diabetes in difficult conditions. 

We thanked him for sharing his story with us.  It's one we can return to for a bit of perspective on a seemingly difficult day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Big Blue Test

Despite forgetting to send my daughter to school in her diabetes-awareness-blue yesterday, we did commemorate World Diabetes Day at home.  We participated in The Big Blue Test.  This program, sponsored by Roche, raises money for the Diabetes Hands Foundation.  It involves testing blood sugar before and after 14 minutes after exercise.

Asked her preference, my daughter wanted to dance around the living room as her form of exercise.  So we cranked up the music, and did the first blood sugar check.  It was 217, shortly after a peanut butter cracker snack.

After 14 minutes of practicing our best dance moves, she checked again.  "Well that didn't do much, mommy," she complained.  "I'm 210." 

We logged her results into the website anyway, and then watched a video about how the foundation has provided supplies and medical care in impoverished and tornado-devastated areas of Alabama.  Knowledge that we had helped in this way would have to be the reward. 

Really, that 210 was no big deal compared to what other people with diabetes live with every day. There were vials of insulin in our fridge, stacks of supplies in our closet, and an appointment with our endocrinologist on the calendar.

We ended our World Diabetes Day thankful that we had all of the basic supplies and knowledge needed to adequately care for diabetes, and motivated to help those who don't.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Awareness Of What?

I've read a couple of pieces this week discussing what the purpose of diabetes awareness month should be.  Awareness is the obvious answer, but awareness of what?

Should it be awareness that people with diabetes can do anything people without diabetes can?  No foods are forbidden. There are famous athletes, musicians, and supreme court justices with diabetes.  My kid can come to your kid's birthday party, whatever it may entail.

Should it be  awareness that diabetes is a terrible disease to live with?  It involves piercing the skin with sharp objects many times per day.  Cumbersome equipment and its related management is a constant.  Horrific complications and impending demise are around every corner.

Should it be advocacy for a cure?  Don't cut national funding for medical research.  Allow scientists to use all the tools at their disposal to find a way to erase diabetes.  Donate to JDRF or DRI or ADA.

Should it be an increased sense of community?  Wear blue on Fridays, and today (she writes, realizing she sent her daughter to school in purple...).  Send postcards to each other with blue circles on them.  Blog more.

Or is it simpler than all that?  Maybe simple awareness, though obvious, is the true purpose, and any of the above will do.  Whatever it is that means the most to me, or you, is what we should do.  The important part is not how we share the message, but that we do it at all. 

Diabetes exists, and we'd rather it didn't anymore.  Please be aware of that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

World Diabetes Day Postcard


My daughter participated in a World Diabetes Day postcard exchange organized by Lee Ann Thill of The Butter Compartment

Above is the postcard my daughter created, inspired by a video on the website.  On the rear, she included her name, when she was diagnosed with diabetes, and that she walks each year for a cure.

Per the instructions, she also included a closing line:

"One word I would give to you and your family is HOPE."

And that, my friends, is what World Diabetes Day is all about.

Bring Out Your Blue

Support Diabetes Awareness Month by wearing blue every Friday in November.

And also on Monday, November 14th, World Diabetes Day.


Fortunately, Halloween was rescheduled to last Friday in our town, so my daughter's Smurf costume worked out perfectly.

Smurfy Diabetes Month!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Our Scary Halloween

Halloween is supposed to be scary.  And when you factor in diabetes, it's got some additional scary elements. 

Thanks to mother nature, we had a differently scary Halloween. 

Here in the northeast, we got "tricked" with a horror show of a storm.  Saturday afternoon and night featured a soundtrack of creaking, cracking trees crashing to the ground all around us.  Seven inches of snow piled up in our neighborhood. The power at our house went out on Saturday mid afternoon and stayed out until late Monday night.  By Sunday morning, there wasn't a house in town that didn't at least have a pile of branches in front of it, if not whole downed trees.  Many streets were, and still are, impassible.  The makings of a horror movie indeed.  Or a sign of the apocalypse.

Things are beginning to look up.  Most importantly, the power at our house is back on.  There is a fleet of 20 tree trucks using the nearby school parking lot as its headquarters.  The sun is shining and quickly melting the snow.

Everyone is challenged by a power outage.  It's hard to keep warm, fed, entertained, and connected to friends and family.  It's scary to wonder about the consequences if the basement sump-pump's battery back-up system fails, or if you're not careful enough lighting the gas stove with the lighter.

Keeping hearth and home together was the first priority during this storm, but  diabetes also needed attention.  Site change needed to be planned for daylight hours so we didn't have to juggle flashlights and sharp objects.  Panic set in when I realized we were down to the dregs of our last bottle of insulin.  Planning balanced meals without the benefit of refrigeration, ovens or light to cook by was an increasing challenge culminating in last night's pizza from the small stretch of our town's main street with power.  And complicated by the number of bagels which thawed out in the freezer and therefore "needed" to be consumed.

Our town has rescheduled Halloween for Friday, at which point we'll deal with the usual Halloween challenge of counting carbs in unlabeled "fun sized" candy, and the annual ironic low blood sugar while walking around the neighborhood.  But we'll be grateful to return to a warm home, where we can cook a healthy supper to counterbalance the snickers bars.